Our Philadelphia Eagles writers Zach Berman and Bo Wulf preview Sunday’s matchup in opposition to the Green Bay Packers.

Berman: Bo, Happy Thanksgiving. When the schedule was launched within the spring, I figured we’d come out of our turkey slumbers on the point of watch the Eagles’ hardest opponent of the season. Turns out, the Packers are 4-7, teetering on irrelevance and visiting Philadelphia in desperation mode. In Nick Sirianni’s information convention Friday, the parallel was drawn between the spot the Packers are in now and when the Eagles had been 3-6 final season. I’m undecided the Packers have the comparable run within the again half of the schedule, however what number of instances this week have you ever heard the expression, “It’s still Aaron Rodgers”?

The Eagles enter this recreation with a wholesome 53-man roster — everyone seems to be eligible to play. A.J. Brown missed Thanksgiving apply sick in mattress with a abdomen bug. He practiced on Friday and mentioned after the session that he felt like a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, however he’d “rather suffer today than Sunday.” He’ll play in opposition to the Packers.

The Packers enter the sport with deal with David Bakhtiari (knee) questionable, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell (knee) uncertain and cornerback Shemar Jean-Charles (ankle) questionable. Wide receiver Romeo Doubs was declared out, as anticipated.

The vacation made the schedule a bit hectic this week, and I had one fewer Birds with Friends episode than ordinary to select your mind. In that spirit, I’m interested in your ideas on these questions I’ve been pondering this week:

1. If Matt LaFleur known as you at first of the week desperately in search of any strategy to escape Philadelphia with a win and needed to know one of the simplest ways to beat the Eagles (on either side of the ball), what would you inform him?

2. One clear distinction for each the Eagles and Packers this season is the manufacturing at large receiver. Both went into draft weekend needing assist on the place. The Eagles traded a first- and third-round choose for Brown and gave him a $100 million contract. The Packers used their two first-round picks on defensive gamers and traded two second-round picks to maneuver as much as the highest of the second spherical to draft Christian Watson. What would the data of the Eagles and Packers be going into this recreation had Green Bay acquired Brown and Philadelphia drafted a rookie receiver?

3. Who’s one participant who can take his recreation to a special gear throughout the remaining stretch?

4. Who’s the Eagles’ largest risk within the NFC? And which crew ought to they need to see within the postseason?

5. This is the Eagles’ final scheduled prime-time recreation for the rest of the season, though it’s a very good wager that a minimum of one might be flexed. Which recreation is most definitely?

Wulf: Great to listen to from you, as all the time. Hope that chocolate chess pie hit totally different for you this 12 months.

Let’s undergo these one after the other.

1. The very first thing I might inform him is my charge for consultancy, which on this case goes to be 1/17 of LaFleur’s yearly wage. Seems honest.

Because I’m a busy man and solely have a lot time, I might share with him this reductive chart concerning the Eagles’ offense. This relies on 10 video games, and the offensive construction is totally different now with out Dallas Goedert, however it’s an instructive breakdown of what’s been profitable in opposition to Jalen Hurts the passer. Namely, zone blitzes. There’s some widespread sense right here, too, if you concentrate on Hurts’ scrambling skill being muted a bit in zone.

Eagles offense vs. totally different defenses

EPA per dropback Rank

Man & no blitz



Man & blitz



Zone & no blitz



Zone & blitz


twenty ninth

Then once more, the Colts performed a better proportion of man protection in opposition to the Eagles than any opponent this season. But that chart needs to be eye sweet for Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry, although his unit ranks twentieth in defensive DVOA (defense-adjusted worth over common). When the Packers play zone, they blitz extra typically than all however one crew within the league (36.9 p.c of the time).

On the opposite facet, I’d merely say to run the ball when the Eagles are in even fronts and to seek out methods to assault Josiah Scott within the passing recreation. Simple, however extra useful than these well-known teaching search marketing consultant companies that spend one million {dollars} to provide you with massive concepts like, “What about Norv Turner?”

2. This is a good hypothetical and one other worthwhile reminder of how lucky the Eagles had been this offseason. Not solely is Brown an incredible participant at a place the place the Eagles wanted some star energy, however the best way he wins suits completely into the offense and he got here with a built-in relationship with Hurts. If the Eagles had Treylon Burks as a substitute, I believe they’d be both 5-4 or 6-3. The Packers, in the meantime, would most likely be 8-3. Tough noogies.

3. I believe my reply right here is DeVonta Smith. He solely has 4 video games this season with over 50 yards receiving and just one with over 90 (again in Week 3, when he blew up for 169 yards and a landing). We noticed Hurts deal with Smith for a stretch in opposition to the Colts with some anticipatory throws in opposition to man protection. With no Goedert for a minimum of the subsequent three video games, defenses are prone to key on Brown, which could imply an opportunity for the second-year participant to be featured extra. He simply has to make sure his knees are covered.

On protection, I’d wish to see Josh Sweat be a bit of extra productive. With 3 1/2 sacks via 10 video games, he’s a bit behind tempo to match his 7 1/2 from a 12 months in the past.

4. I believe the apparent reply right here is the appropriate one. Because not solely do the Dallas Cowboys stack up properly objectively — they rank No. 2 in general DVOA to Philadelphia’s No. 4 — however they’re additionally those who can steal home-field benefit from the Eagles. At 8-3, the Cowboys have to solely maintain serve at dwelling in opposition to the Eagles on Christmas Eve and make up one different recreation over the ultimate six to take the NFC East (the Eagles are very likely to lose any division tiebreaker). That mentioned, I do assume there’s advantage to the thought the San Francisco 49ers could be the worst particular matchup for the Eagles given their various run recreation and skill to diversify defensively.

If anybody else within the NFC involves Philadelphia, the Eagles (as presently constructed a minimum of) ought to be capable of handle enterprise. I’ll acknowledge the prospect of making an attempt to overcome the Tampa Bay demons from final 12 months’s playoffs can be daunting.

5. If Justin Fields stays wholesome, I believe it could be that Week 15 recreation in Chicago. The scheduled Sunday nighter that week proper now could be the Josh McDaniels Bowl between the Raiders and Patriots, however the Raiders stink and the Patriots are on prime time a bunch over the subsequent few weeks.

Since you’ve thought a lot about these questions, I’m interested in your solutions. And is there the rest in your thoughts concerning the matchup?

Projected lineups



Jalen Hurts


Dean Lowry


Miles Sanders


Kenny Clark


Jack Stoll


Jarran Reed


A.J. Brown


Preston Smith


Jordan Mailata


Quay Walker


Landon Dickerson


Krys Barnes


Jason Kelce


Jaire Alexander


Isaac Seumalo


Rudy Ford


Lane Johnson


Adrian Amos


DeVonta Smith


Darnell Savage


Quez Watkins


Rasul Douglas

Berman: Good solutions. I’ll chime in briefly since you lined them properly.

1. I’d inform LaFleur to remain affected person on offense and get into third-and-short. An early-down incompletion or destructive play offers the Eagles an opportunity to hurry. The defensive construction is totally different when it’s not a recognized passing state of affairs; an environment friendly operating recreation mixed with an offense that may discover straightforward completions and methodically drive downfield is the best way to go.

And then on protection, as you famous, the simplest defenses have blitzed, though this offense can hit on massive performs if the blitz misses. But I might maintain the Eagles from getting straightforward completions and attempt to get them into third-and-longs. Philadelphia ranks No. 4 within the NFL in third-down offense, however it’s No. 23 in conversion proportion on third-and-long (seven yards to go or extra).

2. I’d be curious which fashions mission right here. It’s clearly exhausting to reply, however I‘m assuming Brown would have made such a difference for the Packers during the quiet periods with their passing game. I think they’d enter this recreation 6-5, a minimum of. They failed to attain greater than 17 factors in 5 of seven losses. Brown would have energized that passing recreation throughout that October lull.

I’d knock the Eagles down to 6 or seven wins. There might need been rising pains with a rookie receiver. I nonetheless assume Smith and Goedert would have ensured the passing recreation is healthier than final season, though they wouldn’t have had the identical firepower.

3. I’m Robert Quinn. He hasn’t had a quarterback hit prior to now three video games and was stored to 10 or fewer defensive snaps in two of these video games. I don’t assume Quinn has fallen off a cliff, I simply assume he’s adjusting to a particular function, and the Eagles haven’t been enjoying with massive leads in current weeks. I’m undecided they’ll depend on these double-digit leads from earlier within the season, however Quinn’s observe document is just too robust to assume he’ll be quiet for for much longer.

“I see his ability to really rush the passer, and we have to continue to work to get him in situations where he can do so,” Sirianni mentioned Friday. “I just know he’s going to make a play, a big-time play on a big-time situation here real soon because we know how much talent he has and what a good player he is.”

4. The Cowboys are the largest risk — Christmas Eve would be the hardest take a look at of the season — and the 49ers aren’t far behind. I belief the Cowboys’ quarterback play greater than San Francisco’s, however each these groups can be respectable checks in January. (And if Tampa Bay will get sizzling …)

If the Eagles can get a house playoff recreation in opposition to the Giants or Seahawks, they need to take into account {that a} favorable draw.

5. The two Giants video games stay the strongest potentialities primarily based on market measurement and crew data. Would the NFL bump Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs off prime time in opposition to the Broncos on Dec. 11?

As for one thing I’m watching on this recreation, it’s Rodgers in opposition to the Eagles’ protection. If you had been fearful about how a high-level quarterback would assault this protection after seeing 5 groups high 80 p.c passing final 12 months, Rodgers is the very best candidate but this season.

On offense, I believe the Eagles have a bonus on the road of scrimmage. I’m curious to see if the Eagles use an up-tempo offense to tire out a Packers line of defense that lacks depth. Miles Sanders is a candidate for his second 100-yard dashing efficiency of the season.

What do you see occurring on Sunday?

Projected lineups



Aaron Rodgers


Fletcher Cox


Aaron Jones


Linval Joseph


Robert Tonyan


Javon Hargrave


Christian Watson


Josh Sweat


David Bakhtiari


Haason Reddick


Elgton Jenkins


T.J. Edwards


Josh Myers


Darius Slay


Jon Runyan Jr.


Josiah Scott


Yosh Nijman


Chauncey Gardner-Johnson


Allen Lazard


Marcus Epps


Randall Cobb


James Bradberry

Wulf: I believe we’re going to see the Eagles’ offense come again to life in opposition to a mediocre Packers protection. After two weeks of uncharacteristic turnovers, merely defending and shifting the ball on the similar clip would make a giant distinction. Brown’s illness and Goedert’s absence could be limiting elements for the passing recreation, however the Eagles ought to be capable of run throughout a dashing protection that ranks twenty ninth in DVOA. I do additionally assume the Packers will be capable of transfer the ball, although I’m shopping for the Linval Joseph-Ndamukong Suh run protection improve as an actual factor. But I count on Rodgers to govern some issues on the line of scrimmage to seek out favorable matchups within the slot. It’s a back-and-forth recreation, with T.J. Edwards forcing a key turnover and Jake Elliott hitting a late discipline aim to offer the Eagles a canopy. Eagles 31, Packers 23

Berman: I do know what the document says, the statistics counsel and even the on-field proof exhibits. The Eagles ought to nonetheless be fearful about Rodgers. I’ve seen it too many instances to assume he can’t flip it on, and the best way the Packers performed in opposition to the Cowboys ought to increase eyebrows as a result of Green Bay also can run the ball. That’s why I don’t assume this might be a blowout, although it’s a giant level unfold.

However, I count on the Eagles to regulate the road of scrimmage and tire out the Packers’ defensive entrance. Philadelphia has benefits on each traces, and that needs to be the distinction.

The protection will make sufficient performs for the Eagles to safe a victory — particularly if it may pressure a turnover. (Green Bay is averaging 1.4 turnovers per recreation.) That would push the Eagles to double-digit wins for the primary time since 2017, and it could imply all 5 coaches Jeffrey Lurie employed reached double-digit wins within two seasons. Eagles 24, Packers 21

(Photo: Bill Streicher / USA Today)

Source link